China hosts African leaders amid aid criticism

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African leaders are going to Beijing for the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation (FOCAC) Summit, hoping to get financing for their mega infrastructure projects.

Xi said the financing would be in the form of government help as well as investment and funding by institutions and companies.

The summit themed "China and Africa: Towards an Even Stronger Community with a Shared Future through Win-Win Cooperation", is meant to link the Belt and Road Initiative with the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the AU's Agenda 2063 and individual countries' development plans.

The money would be focused on infrastructure to help speed African countries' development, not on "vanity projects", Xi said.

African Union Commissioner for Trade and Industry Albert Muchanga will take stock of the infrastructure development, industrialisation and peace and development programmes, and agree on the priorities for the coming years.

Belt and Road has been criticized by many global analysts and leaders for its debt-heavy structures that unfairly burden the Asian, European, and African nations receiving its funds.

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The absent leaders, according to checks by Africanews, are John Magufuli of Tanzania who is represented by Prime Minister; Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi who is represented by his second vice-president; Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo who is represented by his Prime Minister; Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea, Abdul Aziz Bouteflika of Algeria and King Mswati of eSwatini (formerly Swaziland) who has no representation at all at the summit.

South African president Cyril Ramaphosa is of the view that as China expands its grip of the continent, more local partnerships need to be encouraged between Chinese and African entrepreneurs.

With all these developments, Africa Beyond Aid crusader Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, maintains that "Africa is not a zero sum game". "China dreams of national renewal and Africa of unity and invigoration and a day will come when both aspirations will be achieved", said Xi.

"Established 18 years ago, FOCAC has led global cooperation with Africa and has become a significant marker of South-South cooperation", said Li Dan, director of Africa Studies Center of China Foreign Affairs University.

Xi, addressing leaders at Beijing's Great Hall of the People, said the new £45 billion ($60 billion) will include £11.6 billion ($15 billion) of aid, interest-free loans and concessional loans, a credit line of £15.5 billion ($20 billion), a £7.7 billion ($10 billion) special fund for China-Africa development, and a £3.8 billion ($5 billion) special fund for imports from Africa.

"We have chose to open a China-Africa economic and trade expo in China to encourage Chinese companies to increase investment in Africa". Amid loud applause, President Xi announced that China will train 1,000 high-calibre Africans, provide 50,000 government scholarships, sponsor seminars and workshop that would benefit 50,000 Africans, and invite 2,000 African youths to visit China for exchanges.

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He pointed out that energy, transport, telecommunications and tapping cross-border water resources would be on China's radar in the next phase of Africa's infrastructural forays.

"The rapid growth in Sino-African trade made China Africa's largest trading partner, he said".

"Another perspective.is that those criticising China on debt give too little", said Kagame in an interview with the official Xinhua news agency.

It has already seen China loan billions of dollars to countries in Asia and Africa for roads, railways, ports and other major infrastructure projects.

"China does not interfere in Africa's internal affairs and does not impose its own will on Africa", he said.

He added that, "FOCAC was first established in 2000 as a mechanism for collective dialogue and multilateral cooperation between China and Africa".

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